"...[W]orkers aren't cogs, and it doesn't have to be this way."
--A new Solidarity Center video that explains in simple terms the importance of labor unions. See:
"Good news, Fugitive Slave Act! You're finally off the hook!"
--Comedian John Oliver, reacting on "Last Week Tonight" to a right-wing claim that the Affordable Care Act is the worst law in U.S. history.
Oliver's hilarious explanation of why Congress and President Trump have found it difficult to replace "Obamacare" can be found at this link. Oliver is unparalleled in his ability to wade satirically through the legislative weeds. Usual warning: It's HBO and there are f-bombs. Video:
TODAY'S FAIR SHOTS - MARCH 6th, 2017
1-Report: 'Bathroom Bill' Already Costing San Antonio Convention Business
2-At Heart, New Democratic National Committee Chair Is Progressive
3-'A Great New Accidental Renaissance' Under Trump? Fun to Think About, If Nothing Else
4. On Saturday, Over 5,000 Marched on Mississippi to Stand in Solidarity with Nissan Workers
1. Backers of SB 6, the so-called "bathroom bill," have downplayed the likelihood that passage of the legislation would harm the business community in Texas.
But the San Antonio Express-News is reporting that just the threat of passage of the bill is already doing that very thing.
San Antonio has already lost out on potential convention business because of fears the bill will become law, the newspaper states, and it faces threats of contract cancellations for conventions that have already signed up.
The United Legislative Committee opposes SB 6, both because it is discriminatory and because it threatens good jobs in Texas. The measure is set for hearing before the Senate State Affairs Committee at 8 a.m. Tuesday, March 7, in Room E1.012 of the Capitol:
Three groups - with meetings estimated to bring $3.1 million in total spending - no longer are considering the Alamo City for their events because of a bill prohibiting transgender Texans from using bathrooms tied to their gender identity, said Richard Oliver, spokesman for Visit San Antonio, the former Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Another eight conventions already booked for upcoming events in San Antonio have threatened to pull out should the legislation pass, taking with them a projected $19.9 million economic impact that includes spending by convention-goers on area hotel rooms, meals and attractions, he said.
Oliver declined to name the conventions that passed over San Antonio or the gatherings that plan to uproot themselves if state lawmakers pass the bill, but said convention organizers regularly express concern about the legislation.
"Everyone has their radars up regarding this issue," Oliver said.
Civil rights groups and U.S. business leaders see Senate Bill 6 as discriminatory and a threat to civil rights. The proposed law would require transgender men and women to use bathrooms corresponding with their birth sex in public buildings. It would withhold state funding from local governments that try to circumvent the state law.
2. I don't know of many journalists who have as much knowledge of the union movement as Mike Elk, who has written for various publications over the years and now has a weekly electronic labor newsletter.
Elk is not hesitant to call out labor unions when he can marshal evidence they have gone astray, but he fundamentally believes in the virtues of workers speaking up together for better lives.
I'm proud to pass along Elk's take on the recent Democratic National Committee Chair election. The AFL-CIO endorsed a superb labor friend, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota, for the post. Ellison was edged out by Tom Perez, the outstanding Labor Secretary under President Obama. Ellison accepted Perez's invitation to become Deputy Chair.
The AFL-CIO remains on great terms with Perez. The endorsement of Ellison occurred before Perez had formally entered the contest. Before the DNC election, Texas AFL-CIO President John Patrick, a DNC member who voted for Ellison in both rounds of voting, referred to Ellison as candidate "1-A" and Perez as candidate "1-B." After the result was in, Patrick said he strongly supports Perez and believes the labor movement will not miss a beat in working with him.
Elk's deep dive into Perez's track record emphasizes the former Labor Secretary's authentic progressive credentials:
Despite being considered a groundbreaking Labor Secretary, the overwhelming majority of labor unions opposed his DNC chairmanship. Indeed, many progressives argued that without the support of corporate lobbyists voting in the DNC election, Perez would not have won the election.
Perez immediately attempted to assuage fears by pledging to be more inclusive. He appointed Rep. Ellison (D-MN) as Deputy Chair of the DNC. In an interview with the Minnesota Star Tribune, Perez said that he wanted to make Ellison "the face of the Democratic Party."
While many may dismiss Perez's appointment of Ellison as mere posturing, those who know Perez say it's genuine and indicative of something much deeper in Perez's track record.
Supporters say that Perez's appointment of Ellison follows the management style Perez has used throughout his career, as a board member of immigrant worker center CASA de Maryland, as the county councilman for the hippie enclave of Takoma Park in suburban Maryland, as the head of Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division, and, most recently, as the leader of the Department of Labor.
Many say that the low-key, bespectacled Buffalo native is poised to mend a fractured party, given his experiences turning around the conservative, Bush-era Civil Rights Division and achieving a record turnaround in employee morale at the Department of Labor, where he bent to progressive protests for the agency to do more for workers through executive action.
A deeper look at Perez's career paints a picture of a leader who has gone out of his way to focus on inclusion and dialogue instead of infighting. People who know Perez portray him as a leader that is responsive to grassroots concerns, bringing ideas from the left into the Democratic center to reform policies or practices activists had long fought to change.
"Tom is not the type who likes to surround himself with 'yes men.' If there was a problem, Tom wanted to hear about it," says Jordan Barab, who served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for OSHA under both Tom Perez and his predecessor Hilda Solis. "He knows that it doesn't do any good to cover things up."
Read much more: http://bit.ly/2mmBPyX
3) As someone who tries hard even in unlikely circumstances to see the good side of things, I was impressed by New York Times Columnist Timothy Egan's take on how President Trump, in little over a month, has created "A Great New Accidental Renaissance" in America.
Egan's reasoning calls to mind "The Opposite" episode on "Seinfeld" in which George Costanza figures out that if every decision he has made about his life is wrong, then doing the opposite of his instincts will make it right. (It works, too; Costanza gets a job working for George Steinbrenner and the New York Yankees):
Trump has been good - indirectly - for a free press, an independent judiciary, high school civics, grass-roots political activity, cautionary tales in literature and theater, and spirituality. You don't know what you've got, as the song says, till it's gone - or nearly so.
Face it: We have become a lazy, aging, fairly ignorant democracy. Even in the most turbulent election in modern history, about 90 million eligible voters didn't bother to cast a ballot - the basic task of citizenship. Trump took his 46 percent of those who did vote, many of whom believe fake-moon-landing-level lies, and has tried to act like the earth moved, as he said on Tuesday. It did, but not in the ways that he meant it.
It would be immodest, even overtly Trumpian, to boast about the huge circulation gains at the not-failing New York Times, or the robust support for our competitors, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. But let's just say having a man who told an average of four false or misleading statements a day for the first month of his presidency has been good for those the president calls enemies of the people...
A collateral benefit has gone to comedy. Laughter is one of the best weapons in dangerous times. Trump told his lap dog, Fox News, that "Saturday Night Live" was "a failing show, it's not funny, Alec Baldwin's a disaster." In fact, "S.N.L." has had some of its best ratings in nearly a quarter century. More Trump than Trump, Baldwin is anything but a disaster. And Stephen Colbert's "Late Show" has also taken off, since he took off the gloves.
The hottest book of the Trump era, George Orwell's "1984," is headed for Broadway. "The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears," Orwell wrote, with chilling prescience. Also sailing out of bookstores: Sinclair Lewis's "It Can't Happen Here," Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451" and my personal favorite, Philip Roth's "The Plot Against America."
Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/03/opinion/a-great-new-accidental-renaissance.html?ref=opinion
Egan may have overlooked the reviving fortunes during the Trump era of a certain hit song, Dead Kennedys version:
4. On Saturday, Over 5,000 Marched on Mississippi to Stand in Solidarity with Nissan Workers